Could this be as form of water-based psychogeography?

With more than a nod of gratitude to the work of Nick Papadimitriou, I’ve come up with this water-born set of psychogeographic actions:

  1. Get afloat. Stay close to the water. Go inland.
  2. Explore second hand bookshops. Buy books on the inland waterways  – on social, industrial, natural history; on navigations and folk art etc. Study them. Then walk the Water Road, or sit aboard the boat, or gather around the stove and talk, and look, and see whether you can make sense of the present in relation to the past and your own engagement with both, and with the landscape and waterscape around you.
  3. Go out on your own with old maps and a digital camera. Digital cameras can frame the imagination.
  4. Let your thinking take off in any direction that suits you. Go in unfamiliar directions. Go in familiar directions and try and see things in a new way.
  5. Develop a sense of the transience of things. Enjoy the moment and the history. Build up your sense of place by valuing the senses, knowledge and feelings equally.
  6. Develop a poetry out of the commonplace. The two aren’t opposites. The inexplicable and the obvious talk to and reside alongside each other.

Last weekend, an overnight stay at the boat provided me with the perfect opportunity to dip my toe into un-sighted territory!

I thought it’d be a good idea to keep my first walk short and simple. A walk of perhaps ½ mile of so, from the Eileen’s current home mooring to her previous one. A Saturday morning towpath meander.

In words, pictures and sounds these are the impressions of that walk:

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From Hennef Way looking North.
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The track to Grimsbury Reservoir; a fast-flowing feeder of the R. Cherwell and the Oxford Canal in intimate proximity.
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Lower level river, higher level Cut. Not the thatched-cottage South Oxford Canal of the tourism brochures, but a taste of unadopted, edgeland canal. I painted by previous boat, tied to those railings, and under the shelter of this bridge. It was the late 90’s.
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The weir maintaining the level of the Cut.

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Floodlands.

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The tower of St. Tesco’s seen through the trees…
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Charred speakers on scrubland.
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Many, many spent lager cans in the hedgerows…
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The well-trod path.

I set out on the walk with an open mind. The walk had no intention of being either a photo-shoot or a travelogue, it was all about exploring a hidden landscape of atmospheres, histories, actions and characters which charge a space and impact directly on your feelings and behaviour.

And, I think I was rewarded. The walk was a revealing experience. I noticed a lot, listened more than usual and felt more than usually connected to both the place and that moment.

It’s something I’ll do again, and again.

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